The fact that 190 million Americans now live in states where marijuana has been legalized to some degree is raising a number of questions and issues about how to integrate the American workforce and marijuana consumers rights in regards to drug testing. With medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and recreational marijuana for adult use in 8 states and Washington DC, millions of responsible and otherwise law-abiding adults remain at risk of being excluded from the workforce due to a positive drug test — even where the use does not affect an individual’s job performance or has taken place days or weeks prior to the test.
NORML believes that this practice is discriminatory and defies common sense. As a result, a growing coalition of NORML Chapters in California, Oregon, Colorado and Washington have come together to advocate for necessary legislative and workplace reforms to protect responsible marijuana consumers.
NORML’s Workplace Drug Testing Coalition’s efforts will focus on these four areas:
- Reform workplace drug testing policies
- Expand employment opportunities for marijuana consumers
- Clarify the difference between detection technology and performance testing
- Highlight off-duty state law legal protections for employees
“Even though marijuana is legal and readily available in several states, consumers are being unfairly forced to choose between their job and consuming off the clock as a result of out-of-date employment practices,” said Kevin Mahmalji, National Outreach Coordinator for NORML. “That is why many NORML chapters active in legal states are now shifting their attention to protecting honest, hardworking marijuana consumers from these sort of antiquated, discriminatory workplace drug-testing practices, in particular the use of random suspicionless urine testing.”
Employer testing of applicants or employees for trace metabolites (inert waste-products) of past use of a legal substance makes no sense in the 21st century. This activity is particularly discriminatory in the case of marijuana where such metabolites may be detectable for weeks or even months after the consumer has ceased use.
With the 2017 Legislative Session underway, this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. Legislation has already been introduced in Oregon and Washington, and is gaining traction in those states.
“Random suspicionless drug testing of applicants or employees for past marijuana use is not just unfair and discriminatory, it’s bad for business,” said attorney Judd Golden of Boulder, Colorado, a long-time NORML activist and Coalition spokesperson. The modern workforce includes countless qualified people like Brandon Coats of Colorado, a paraplegic medical marijuana patient who never was impaired on the job and had an unblemished work record. Brandon was fired from a Fortune 500 company after a random drug test, and lost his case in the Colorado Supreme Court in 2015. The Court unfortunately found Colorado’s lawful off-duty activities law that protects employees for legal activities on their own time didn’t apply to marijuana use.
California NORML is also expecting legislation to be introduced this session to address this issue. Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML said, “One of the most frequently asked questions we have been getting since Prop. 64 passed legalizing adult marijuana use in California last November is, ‘Am I now protected against drug testing on my job?’ Sadly in our state, not even medical marijuana patients are protected against job discrimination, and it’s a priority of Cal NORML to change that. We are hoping to get a bill introduced at the state level and are working with legislators, unions, and other reform groups to make that happen.”
NORML Chapters across the country are advocating on behalf of the rights of responsible marijuana consumers against discrimination in the workplace. “Our coalition was formed with the intention of not only educating legislators, but also with businesses in mind. It is important they know testing for marijuana is not mandatory, and that employers have testing options,” said Jordan Person, executive director for Denver NORML. The Denver chapter is currently working with companies that offer performance impairment testing of workers suspected of on-the-job impairment or use rather than unreliable bodily fluid testing to help provide options for employers.
For decades drug testing companies and others have pushed their agenda through a campaign of misinformation. Until now there has never been an organized effort to challenge the profit- driven ideology of those who seek to benefit from intrusive drug screening. Mounting evidence continues to prove there is no logical reason why adult marijuana consumers should be treated with any less respect, restricted more severely, and denied the same privileges we extend to responsible adults who enjoy a casual cocktail after a long day at the office.
For legal questions, please contact Coalition spokesperson Judd Golden at firstname.lastname@example.org. For other marijuana related questions or an interview, please contact Kevin Mahmalji at email@example.com.
On the heels of the 2016 election – where four states voted to approve adult-use marijuana initiatives, and four more voted to approve medical marijuana initiatives – NORML Chapters across the country are lobbying their state legislators for additional reforms. In the coming weeks, NORML Chapters around the country, such as California NORML, Connecticut NORML, Wyoming NORML, and Virginia NORML, will be focusing their time and energy in support of dozens of statewide reform bills seeking to amend various aspects of their state’s marijuana policies.
To help increase the likelihood of success for these volunteer-led lobbying efforts, NORML has created a citizen lobby guide. This comprehensive booklet will assist activists in planning and execution of a successful lobby day. It also provides organizational checklists and a legislative questionnaire so that marijuana activists, regardless of the state they’re located in, will be fully prepared to meet with state lawmakers to discuss meaningful marijuana law reforms and to most effectively communicate NORML’s message of ending the prohibition of marijuana on the local, state and federal level.
Citizen Lobby Guide: http://norml.org/pdf_files/NORML_CitizenLobbyGuide.pdf
In addition to offering support through NORML’s Citizen Lobby Guide, we have created more than 30 action alerts targeting state lawmakers across the country urging their support for marijuana legislation being considered in their state. Simply click on the link below and enter your information to join the fight!
Take Action: http://norml.org/act
We hope that with these tools, along with the direct support of NORML staff, marijuana activists will have the resources needed to effectively lobby state lawmakers in support of marijuana law reforms.
Here’s a list of scheduled NORML Chapter Lobby Days below:
- Virginia NORML – Jan 30
- Arizona NORML – Feb 2
- Texas NORML – Feb 8
- Houston NORML – Feb 8
- DFW NORML – Feb 8
- Waco NORML – Feb 8
- New Mexico – Feb 21
- Missouri NORML – Feb 28
- Kansas City NORML – Feb 28
- Greater St. Louis NORML – Feb 28
- Mid-Missouri NORML – Feb 28
- Springfield NORML – Feb 28
- University of Missouri NORML – Feb 28
- North Carolina NORML – Mar 1
- Charlotte NORML – Mar 1
- Denver NORML – Mar 7
- Colorado NORML – Mar 7
- Monterey County NORML – Mar 7
- NORML Women of Washington – Mar 7
- Washington NORML – Mar 7
- Portland NORML – Mar 7
- Michigan NORML – March 30
- Illinois NORML – May 17
To get involved or to find out more information about a lobby day in your state, please email: KevinM@NORML.org.
Everyday NORML affiliates and chapters around the country pour countless hours into contacting representatives, hosting events, and talking to voters, all with the hope of passing meaningful marijuana reforms on the local, state and federal level! In an effort to highlight their hard work and accomplishments, we will feature their stories on NORML.org and promote the content through our social media channels.
State and Local
Without a citizen initiative process, Virginia NORML is forced to rely on their state legislature to change state law; therefore, volunteers have been working hard over the past few months to unseat Virginia’s most anti-marijuana politician this November!
Action Alert: Help Virginia NORML Oust A Marijuana Prohibitionist
Days before the 2015 General Election, marijuana advocates In North Carolina held a rally to remind candidates that marijuana is, and will continue to be an important issue for voters. The group is also asking law enforcement agencies to make marijuana arrests their lowest priority.
Charlotte NORML Supports Marijuana Reform
Sharon Ravert, executive director of Peachtree NORML shared her thoughts about law enforcement getting involved in health-related matters such as medical marijuana.
Commission Hears Sheriff’s Objections to Medical Cannabis in Georgia
Wyoming NORML remains determined after Campbell County representatives announced their opposition of an effort to put medical marijuana on the ballot in 2016.
County Commissioners Back Anti-Pot Campaign
Close to 1,000 marijuana advocates took to the streets of Texas to educate community leaders about the need for a more comprehensive medical marijuana bill for suffering Texans!
Hundreds Join ‘Marijuana March’ in Dallas
Now that Mr. Mizanskey has been released from prison, he has found his calling as the Show Me State’s most vocal opponent against the federal government’s War on Drugs and the negative impact it has had on American families.
Jeff Mizanskey Spent Over a Third of His Life in Prison
Josh Chittum, executive director of Mid-Missouri NORML continues his work to change local laws regarding marijuana. He’s focused on changing the penalties associated with the cultivation of marijuana in Columbia, Missouri from 15 years in jail to a municipal fine.
Local Groups Asking for Signatures on Marijuana Legislation
Northwest Ohio NORML recently endorsed Mike Ferner for Toledo Mayor citing his support for a voter-approved ordinance that aimed to reduce criminal penalties for marijuana crimes.
Northwest Ohio NORML endorses Ferner for Toledo mayor
Dale Gieringer, executive director of California NORML shares his thoughts on Operation Golden Flow, a drug test aimed at finding heroin users among returning Vietnam veterans and the profits that help fuel the failed War on Drugs.
Operation Golden Flow: America’s Urine is Liquid Gold for Drug War Profiteers
Pittsburgh NORML recently avoided a long court battle with the NFL over a dispute related to the pro-marijuana group’s popular logo and one used by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pittsburgh Steelers Threaten NORML Chapter
Members of Virginia NORML met to discuss their strategy to expand on HB 1445, a severely limited medical marijuana bill that was passed by the state legislature earlier this year.
Proponents of Legalized Pot Plot Strategy
With plenty of snowy months ahead, Wyoming NORML remains optimistic as they continue their work to gather roughly 25,000 signatures to put medical marijuana on the 2016 ballot.
Signatures Still Needed to Get Medical Marijuana Up for Wyoming Vote
Pamela Novy, executive director of Virginia NORML recently met with community leaders to discuss an effort to decriminalize marijuana in the city of Roanoke, Virginia.
VA NORML Works With Local Lawmakers on Decriminalizing Marijuana
Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML pushed back against claims that marijuana is more harmful and dangerous than alcohol by citing a government-funded study that took place between 2012 and 2013.
Americans’ Marijuana Use Has Doubled in the Past 10 Years, Report Finds
Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML shared his concerns about major GOP candidates not taking a more definite position on the issue of legalizing marijuana on the federal level.
Marijuana Industry Advocates Find GOP’s Lack of Pot Talk a Major Bummer
Missouri NORML Fall Conference, November 7, St. Louis
Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, November 11-13, Las Vegas
High Times Cannabis Cup, November 12-15, Jamaica
Denver NORML Holiday Potluck & Silent Auction, November 21, Denver
NORML’s Legal Seminar, December 3-5, Key West